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Often times choosing a suitable topic proves to be the most difficult part of writing a law journal note or comment. A suitable topic is one that is both of current interest in the legal community and one that is of interest to the author. But where does one find such a topic? This page provides links to existing resources that outline sources and techniques for locating a topic in an effective and efficient manner. There are a myriad of resources available to students. This page divides resources into the following categories: Books, scholarly articles, guides from legal database providers and freely-available internet resources
Words of Wisdom
If you need help locating a topic it would behoove you to check with an expert like a professor or someone you might work for. If you know what topic or area of law you are interested in, the big three (Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg) have plenty of newsletters and current awareness tools to point you to hot topics, circuit splits, seminal cases and new legislation that might be worth writing about. Some of those sources are noted below.
For what it’s worth, whatever you choose to write on, make sure it’s a topic that you want to live with for a long time. You don’t want to sit down after a long hard day to re-edit something that doesn't interest you. Beyond that, once you become an expert on something there is a realistic possibility that your career choices may be guided by that expertise.
Academic Legal Writing: law review articles, student notes, seminar papers, and getting on law review by
Call Number: KF 250 .V65 2016 Law Permanent Reserve
Publication Date: 2016-02-19
Finding what to write about (the claim) -- Test suites : making prescriptive claims more sound -- Writing strategy -- Writing the introduction -- Writing the "background" section -- Writing the proof of the claim -- The conclusion and after the conclusion -- Finishing the first draft, and the zeroth draft -- Tips on researching -- Editing : general principles -- Editing : getting help from your faculty advisor -- Writing : logical problems to watch for -- Writing : paragraph-level problems to watch for -- Writing : sentence/clause problems to watch for -- Writing : word/phrase problems to watch for -- Writing : rhetorical problems to watch for -- Editing exercises -- Using evidence correctly -- Writing and researching : timeline and summary
Scholarly Writing: Ideas, Examples & Execution by
Call Number: KF 250 .C528 2012 Law Main Stacks
Publication Date: 2012-08-20
Thinking : finding your topic and developing your thesis -- Preparing : developing horizontal and vertical knowledge -- Executing : writing the draft -- Refining : evaluating and revising your draft -- Refining : taking and incorporating feedback -- Finishing : polishing the final product -- Finishing : publishing your paper.
Scholarly Writing for Law Students by
Call Number: KF250 .F35 2017 Law Main Stacks
Publication Date: 2017-03-24
Introduction : scholarly writing in law school -- Exploration : choosing and narrowing a topic -- Inspiration : finding and developing a thesis -- The mostly research stage -- The writing process : (and more)getting it down on paper -- The writing process : revising and polishing
Eugene Volokh, Writing a Student Article, 48 J. Legal Educ. 247 (1998)
Richard Delgado, How to Write a Law Review Article, 20 U. San Francisco L. Rev. 445 (1986).
Heather Meeker, Stalking the Golden Topic: A Guide to Locating and Selecting Topics for Legal Research Papers, 1996 Utah L. Rev. 917 (1996). This article gives practical advice on how to identify a strong topic for academic legal writing and describes a preemption check process
Resources from Commercial Services
- Bloomberg Law
- Law School Home > Law School Resources > Law Review Resources: Use Bloomberg Law to find a topic. Bloomberg offers several features that may help students locate suitable topics including resources to locate circuit splits, hot topics and legal issues in the news
- Westlaw for Law Review/ Law Journals available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfhVY9Zptm0. This 20-minute Youtube video, authored by Westlaw Academic Account Manager Samuel Barbano, includes sections on preemption checking, cite checking and topic selection.
There are many fine articles, blog posts, research guides and videos dedicated to topic selection for law journal. a basic keyword search should suffice. Of particular note here is YouTube. Many librarians and vendor representatives (Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg) have recorded their sessions and these may be located online.